Vinny Spotleson, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, has announced his bid for the Nevada Assembly in District 21.
Spotleson, a Democrat, said he will challenge Republican incumbent Derek Armstrong, who served as chairman of the powerful Assembly Taxation Committee during the 2015 Legislature.
Spotleson, 28, worked on the unsuccessful 2006 U.S. Senate campaign of Jack Carter, son of former President Jimmy Carter. He later joined Reid’s staff as manager of conservation and energy issues in Southern Nevada.
He said he’s proud of his work to protect fossil beds at Tule Springs in the northern Las Vegas Valley and to close the Reid-Gardner coal-fired power plant. A lawsuit filed by the Moapa Paiute Tribe over pollution from the plant was settled this year for $4.3 million. Its closure was a priority for Reid, who is not affiliated with the plant.
Spotleson said he runs a small business working with the arts community, the tourism industry and Native American tribes on public lands conservation issues.
As a freshman lawmaker, Armstrong, R-Henderson, won praise during the 2015 session for his knowledge of tax policy. As chairman of the Assembly Taxation Committee, he helped write a compromise tax package ultimately approved by lawmakers.
Armstrong also served on the Assembly Education and Ways and Means committees.
Figures from the secretary of state’s office show Democrats hold an 1,800-voter registration advantage over Republicans in the district, though the 5,800 nonpartisan voters make it a competitive district.
The district covers parts of Henderson and unincorporated areas of Clark County along the southern 215 Beltway.
— Sandra Chereb
Teacher solutions sought
Democratic state lawmaker Joyce Woodhouse, seeking re-election to her Senate District 5 seat, has called for a review of teacher licensing in Nevada to address the teacher shortage.
Woodhouse, D-Henderson, spent 40 years working for the Clark County School District as a first-grade teacher and elementary school principal.
“The teacher shortage in Clark County is a crisis that is putting students and their long-term educational success at risk,” she said. “Modernizing our approach to licensing teachers could help us put more teachers in classrooms, reduce class sizes, and improve educational outcomes.
“However, we should also be mindful of the fact that teacher licensing is a complex issue that deserves a thorough review,” Woodhouse said. “It will require us to draw on the expertise of our teachers, school administrators, and local communities, while also taking a look at the experiences of other states.”
Woodhouse wants the Legislative Committee on Education, which meets in the interim between legislative sessions, to begin a study of potential legislative changes that could be implemented in 2017 in order to expand flexibility for local school districts to address the issue.
Woodhouse has served on the Senate Education Committee during four legislative sessions and serves on the interim committee. She has proposed that the committee look at several areas:
— Exploring potential options for reciprocity in teacher licensing so that qualified teachers who are licensed in other states can more easily move to Nevada.
— Examining the process for out-of-state licensure applications to look for areas of improvement that would expedite the review and reduce the burden on applicants. The process has been criticized for being tedious and taking too long to complete.
— Reviewing possible regulatory adjustments that would be required at the Department of Education in order to implement any changes to existing licensure requirements.
— Ensuring that changes are made in a way that preserves Nevada’s ability to allow only qualified teachers to be licensed in the state.
The Education Committee’s first meeting is Feb. 10.
— Sean Whaley